The selling power of Chinese KOLs: Chinese Influencer Market in 2019

Chinese influencer market has different varieties form Western markets such as low CPC, more engaged audience, word of mouth marketing, and of course very distinct social media ecosystem. We already mentioned Chinese KOL Beck Li’s Mini Cooper fortune where she made 100 Mini Copper sold out in just four minutes through her social media account. This is enough to show how powerful are the influencers in the Chinese market. It is not surprising that western luxury brands are fancy for collaborating with KOLs. The Chinese influencer market is more than a place to raise awareness of your brand but a strategy to launch new products. 

What makes the Chinese market realistically powerful?


Trust building: If you ask big KOLs probably all of them will mention that trust is the biggest reason behind their success. According to the research, 49% of customer choice depends on KOLs’ opinion. 


Dedicated audience: The distinct feature is that Chinese followers are real and their choice heavily depends on influencers. 


Long-term partnerships: Whether it’s a collection or just a partnership long-term relations with influencers create more authentic content, more selling projects and accepted as more trustier by their audience. 


Customized products: It’s easy to find the usual product in the stores, the aim is to add influencer’s value, their uniqueness. 


Considering the feedbacks of the target audience: Influencers ask followers’ opinions during the production and designing process. 


Social media ecosystem: Chinese social media platforms are created to push e-commerce, thus, it has online shops where influencers and brands store their products upon the posts. The most popular ones, WeChat and Weibo are the platforms that made sold-out sales within few minutes. 

Let’s see a few examples of the selling power of Chinese KOLs.


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Mr. Bags


Tao Liang is known for his passion for capsule luxury bags. He made collections with different Western brands such as Givenchy, Montblanc, Longchamp. He sold 3.24 million RNM Tod’s handbags within six minutes. 

Yang Mi


Actress, high-fashion influencer Yang Mi collaborated with Michael Kors for Valentine’s Day. A limited-edition Whitney Shoulder Bags designed with heart and star studs. Red and black colored bags aimed to depict a confident, charming woman.

M.A.C. Cosmetics


Can you expect a makeup line to be inspired by anime characters? M.A.C cosmetics together with Tencent mobile game “Honor of Kings” launched lipstick collection. Limited-edition lipsticks came in five shades associating five of “Honor of Kings” heroines. To raise awareness, five reality show stars attended in the campaign posts. The campaign was sold out in 24 hours of its launch. 


The value of the influencer marketing industry in China is predicted to be 20 billion in 2020. Although China has bright influencers it is still fuzzy for western brands to enter in. In light of this, we’ve listed a few tips for running successful campaigns in this multi-billion market:


Use relevant influencers 


It’s better to invite micro-influencers to your small scale campaigns for raising awareness. Instead, collaborate with macro or celebrity influencers for Influencer X campaigns. Especially, luxury brands are a perfect match for this kind of collaboration. 


Relevant content for each platform


Chinese platforms are divided into three groups; blogging, short videos, and live-streaming. Suggesting YouTube or Instagram style formats doesn’t apply to China’s social media platforms. Brands should understand the different characteristics of platforms. For example, Weibo and Wechat are mainly blog sharing platforms and allows user-generated-content. Short video platforms like Xiaohongshu are effective channels for raising awareness. Live-streaming is the best way for detailed information about Influencer-X-Brand collaboration.  


Allow User-Generated Content


User-generated-content campaigns boost the exposure and increase the virality of content. Besides, UGC requires minimal effort and is visually-oriented, encouraging customers share their experience via an image with a short text. 


Here we have a creative approach by one of the luxury US shoe brands. Stuart Weitzman invited fashion influencer Zola Zhang to design outfits of the models for their show. In the end, Zola shared the detailed behind-the-scenes of the designing which created high engagements.


Focus on Millennials and Gen Z


Purchasing habits of Z-lennials are different in the West and East. Unlike Western Z-lennials who surf on different social platforms, shopping websites, the Chinese prefer to buy massively from Taobao. Micro-influencers have a more in-touch connection with their followers and more authentic content. Their growing capacity promises successful long-term partnerships for newcomer brands. 

Last but not least tip is budgeting


There’s one influential factor to start a campaign in the Chinese influencer market is budgeting. Without enough budget allocation, brands that intend entering China every campaign is “predestined” to fail. 


Brands falsely tent to believe that the costs in the Chinese market will be comparatively low and rewards will be high. This is commonly made mistake by businesses as they apply western KPIs and standards to the China market. But, China market is more competitive and expensive than that of the West. The obvious solution here is to increase the marketing spendings in order to get the expected results and grab the market share. As the above-shown report by Newrank, describes the rough amount spent on KOL campaigns during the first quarter of 2018 and 2019. 


While far from being a definitive guide to elaborating the power of Chinese key opinion leaders, brands can think around it and set more realistic expectations for Chinese influencer marketing campaigns.

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